Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I'm presenting Thursday night ... Free and open to public

I'll be presenting a very brief (trying for 6 minutes) talk on Broadway Economics Thursday night.  The event is free and open to the public, and there are three other professors who will also present (again, in 6 minutes or less).

Here's the write-up distributed by the Honor's Program:
The Honors Program is hosting "360 Second Lectures" with Professor Ramsaran, Professor Kelsey, Professor Rousu, and Professor Viker.​ Join us for an evening featuring distinguished professors sharing their knowledge on various topics of their choice in hopefully under 360 seconds! The event will be held on Thursday, April 21 in Degenstein Meeting Rooms 1-3 at 7:30 PM.
Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Malnutrition in Cuba

I came across this passage today (link here):
... access to food is the Cuban people’s most pressing daily preoccupation and that many come up so short that, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, malnutrition is the plurality cause for hospital admissions in Cuba (41 percent).

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

My Q&A about Broadway Economics with ECNMY.ORG

Link here

I am excited about the new website being formed in the UK, ECNMY.ORG, to help make economics more accessible.  They published an interview with me about Broadway Economics, which you can find here.  Excerpt:

From ‘Money Money Money’ (Mamma Mia) to ‘You Gotta Get A Gimmick’ (Gypsy), the site features a stack of songs from many different Broadway shows, from Evita to Once, and provides ways in that make concepts like marginal utility a little less intimidating.
We spoke to the person behind the site, economics professor Matthew Rousu.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Price discrimination in cruise lines

The major cruise lines are great at price discriminating - charging different prices to different consumers based on consumers' willingness-to-pay.  (See my previous post here for evidence.)  I went on a cruise over my spring break and on the first day, three couples were discussing the prices they paid:

Couple #1: Inside Room (which is least desirable).  The total price after taxes and fees was $1550.  This couple booked their trip just one week before the sail-away date.

Couple #2: Inside room.  The total price after taxes and fees was $2300.  This couple booked their trip four months ahead of time.  However, this couple also got a free beverage package (all alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks free throughout the cruise) and several meals at "specialty restaurants".

Couple #3: Balcony room, $2900, booked 4 months ahead of time.  This couple also received the free beverage package and the free meal package.

Another interesting note - couple #2 called a few days before the cruise departed and upgraded to a balcony room for $300 more, making their price $2600 for the exact same package couple #3 received (for $2900).

Three couples and four different prices, all for the same trip.  The cruise lines are good at extracting as much as they can from their customers.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

My new piece on the musical Hamilton



The brilliant tune ‘My Shot’ also illustrates several economic concepts. First, Hamilton sings about going to King’s College (which is now Columbia University) to gain more skills, as he claims “the problem is I’ve gotta lotta brains but no polish”. In another section of the song we hear from the character Mulligan, who’s an apprentice to a tailor. He echoes Hamilton’s aspirational desires when he sings: “I’m joining the rebellion cause I know it’s my chance to socially advance, instead of sewin’ some pants”.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

My thoughts on the musical Hamilton

Recently, I had the privilege of seeing Hamilton.  For those not in-the-know, this is THE ticket to get on Broadway right now.  If you try to find tickets, you can no longer find them for less than $300/ticket.  (We got them when the show was still in previews in August for a cheap price, thankfully.)  Some thoughts:

1. After seeing it - I completely agree with NY Times critic Ben Brandtly, who says "Yes, it really is that good".  I can't recommend this show highly enough.  

2. It has many songs that give great illustrations of economic concepts, including Satisfied, The Room Where it Happens, Cabinet Battle #1, and more.  I currently have one song up on BroadwayEconomics.com, My Shot

3. The business of how this show operates fascinates me.  They have increased the ticket prices recently, so there are a few rows for about $100, but most tickets are $180.  But they hold back some tickets that they call premium tickets which cost several hundred dollars a ticket.

All this said, one could still argue their tickets are dramatically under-priced.  Why?  They sell for much more on the secondary market.

Here the show has a tough decision.  The producers want to make money, but they'd also like the opportunity for some people without high incomes to get to see the show.  But if they don't price the tickets high enough, ticket resalers simply buy all the tickets immediately, then mark up the price on the secondary market  

4. The musical used to have an in-person lottery, which they called Ham4Ham, where people could put their name in as an attempt to win a $10 front-row seat.  The lottery was a major PR coup for the show, as often 1,000 people would line up in front of the building each day to try to win a ticket - creating major buzz for the show.  But the lottery was so successful that it presented problems for those who actually wanted to drive on the street (or walk past the theatre) so the show went to an online lottery.  This will lower the odds of winning, as the decreased cost of submitting an entry means more entries will be submitted daily.

5. I agree with those who say Hamilton should not be removed from the $10 bill, including what you can read here and here.

6. On the trip, we also saw "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime".  That was also fantastic - one of the best plays I have ever seen.

Here's a clip of the show performing their opening number at the Grammy Awards